Sunday, 17 March 2019

Fortuitous Fornebu trip

On Friday I was supposed to be guiding but had a last minute cancelation due to illness. That was the client’s loss as the Bird Gods were clearly shining on me as I bumped into many of the species they had hoped to see. The Shrew God however has not taken a liking to me and my attempts to film the Water Shrew (which I had been told would make me a TV star!) failed as I was unable to find it again.

Saturday was a fortuitious day. The girls had chosen Fornebu as a location for some Beast walking and as I sat in the car waiting for the other members of the tribe to come out I received a message that a Stonechat was at…Fornebu! My impatience with the others quickly increased but we were soon on our way and 15 minutes later I pulled up at Halden Brygge and was the first twitcher on the scene. I soon found the finder of the bird, Ole S, who has the most amazing knack of finding rarities at Fornebu (headlined by 2 Issy Shrikes and Sibe Stonechat). The bird had just disappeared, and the usual panicky feelings ensued but just a couple of minutes later and Ole had found it again. It wasn’t very close and I was loathe to risk scaring it off as if it left the small area where it was then it would be very difficult to find again. We did see it well though and it was a strikingly different looking bird to the one I found at Fornebu on 8 April last year. That bird was strikingly black and white with a large white rump that had one thinking Siberian Stonechat whereas yesterday’s bird was a much browner bird (both were males). The 2018 bird was almost certainly of the subspecies rubicola (the race that breeds in continental Europe and is expanding in Sweden) and it would be tempting to think that this year’s bird is a hibernans (UK and also a few pairs in western Norway) but it isn’t that easy as the variation in rubicola is large.

Others birders arrived whilst we were watching it but my tribe was getting impatient and I had to leave. I returned three hours later hoping it might be possible to get better pictures, but the bird was not to be found. I subsequently discovered it has disappeared shortly after I left the first time, but this news hadn’t been shared with any others birders who might have hoped to see the bird…

Stonechat (svartstrupe). I thought that bird was a 2cy but there are differing opinions amongst a couple of people who have good knowledge of the species so it is probably best to leave it unaged

Dipper (fossekal) in Maridalen
both birds were swimming and diving a lot

the eight Purple Sandpipers (fjæreplytt) at Huk

it seems to be almost impossible to take a picture of the Water Rail (vannrikse) where the bird isn't obscured in some way or there is a piece of rubbish in the picture

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